Why So Flat?
Been doing some research on wearable devices (see Next Hot Space: Wearables) and I’ve come to the conclusion that we will have to see a radical shift in the way interfaces operate in this new world. When I look at wearables like the Meta space glasses, which project a 3D, nearly holographic image into your field of vision, then go back to the interfaces on your typical device today, I’m struck at how flat and similar everything looks.
Almost every app is just FLAT. Sure, its in 2D, but then everything is in 2D. Every know and then, you can see that the designers understand that they can do 3D, but its more of a nice design touch, and not integral to the design. For example, when you switch users in the iOS twitter app, it looks like a turning box. Nice, but no boundary pusher.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking 3D like the Nintendo 3DS or even 3D TV. In fact, I fully believe that we will soon, if not already, get a pushback on the use of that kind of 3D. What I’m talking about is making our interfaces live in a 3D world behind the screen.
Games have been doing it forever. Look at Infinity Blade, for example. It seems to me that sure, 3D is very cool in games, in rendering a new world for your users to experience and your characters to live in, but for some reason 3D hasn’t caught on in the app space outside of games.
If you ask me, there is a great opportunity here not only to create cool new 3D interfaces for mobile, but interfaces which can be seamlessly ported to the 3D wearable world, when projecting a 3D interface into a wearable device becomes more commonplace.
Despite what we see in Minority Report, I don’t think displays will remain floating 2D constructs which can be moved and swiped away, but 3D objects which can be rotated. We’re talking Tony Stark vs John Anderton, and Stark’s the winner.
How to prepare? Easy. Just look at your interfaces and see how they can be reworked for 3D. Consult with or bring on a designer with 3D modeling expertise. Have them generate menus and functions as 3D models in Maya, or if you can’t afford that, Blender. Use something like Unity 3D or some other game creation software to take those models and turn them into a fully functioning app.
If you do this, you’ll be ahead of the curve next year as wearables start hitting the mainstream in a big way, and you’ll already be working on an interface of the future.
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